If you happen to have a pineapple on hand to eat, (and they are abundant and cheap during the late spring and summer months), then why not take a few minutes and grow your own pineapple plant from the discarded top?
It seems nearly mythological that anyone can grow a tropical fruit such as pineapple in his or her own home. But as long as you have a sunny window and a moderate indoor climate you can grow your own. Don’t expect a large harvest. Each plant produces one fruit and yours will never grow to the size of a full grown Hawaiian-farmed plant, unless you do live in a tropical climate.
- High in vitamin C
- First commercially grown in Hawaii
- Anana means “excellent fruit”
A fruit that is green and fresh picked is best. But, since it is unlikely that you would want to eat such a fruit, try to find one that is ripe but not overripe. Test for ripeness by gently pulling on a leaf. If it pops out with ease, the fruit is overripe.
At home, slice the crown (that’s the leafy top part) off the fruit. Be sure to remove all the flesh. If you don’t remove this material it may rot in the soil. Carefully slice small, horizontal sections from the crown until you see root buds that appear as small dots or circles on the cut surface. [See pic] The root buds are where the roots will eventually emerge and exposing them will facilitate quicker root formation. My pineapple top already had small roots formed as well. Strip off about an inch of lower leaves from the base to provide a stem for planting in the soil. Then set the plant top aside for a minimum of seven days in a dry place, out of full sun. The cut end must be allowed to heal and dry before planting, otherwise the plant will rot in the soil.
Although the pineapple plant is a Bromeliad, it is not an air plant and requires a soil bed. Regular potting soil is sufficient, but I like to add a small amount of sand to the mixture. Pineapple plants require soil that is barely moist, not wet. I suggest using a clay or terracotta pot that breathes, to help avoid over-watering. Water your plant once a week, spraying the leaves in addition to wetting the soil. Fertilize four to six times a year.
The pineapple plant requires a lot of light. Keep yours in a sunny window throughout the winter, in a location that is protected from drafts and cold temperatures. In summer place your plant outside in a sunny location, being careful to allow the plant to adjust to more direct light by placing it in an area with partial sun for a few days first. If you don’t take this precaution your plant will be burned. Do not leave your plant out during freezing weather. Pineapple plants should never be subjected to temperatures lower then 60 degrees F ( 16 C ).
Getting a pineapple to bear fruit is harder than growing one. Once your plant is approximately 25-30 inches tall it will flower and produce fruit on its own. But how many people have the space for a 30 inch plus spiky plant? It will take at least two years to grow a plant of that size in a temperate climate.
Luckily, there is a way to force your plant to flower and bear fruit when it is half that size.
Wait until the winter season when the days are shorter and the nights cooler. Pineapple plants normally begin to produce fruit during this time. Place the entire plant, including the pot, into a plastic bag with some ripe apples. As apples rot, they emit Ethylene gas which tricks the plant into forming a flower instead of producing new leaves. Keep the plant in the bag with the apples for approximately 2 weeks or so. Place the plant back in a sunny window and wait for a flower spike to form in the center of the plant.
After several months the flower will dry out and the pineapple will form at the top end of the stem. Wait until the fruit turns a golden yellow colour before picking. After harvesting the fruit you may notice new shoots left on the plant. These can be removed and planted in the same method as the original mother plant. You can also grow another plant from the crown of the harvested fruit, leaving you with several, new, free plants.